Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Walk Out in Anger

“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him…” (Luke 23:35a, NIV 2011).

Two patients walked out on me today. Rarely has one, so this day was special.
The first man sat before me with his neck tumor visible. We had been giving him large doses of narcotics to control his pain and the drugs were disappearing at a rate incompatible with proper use. He asked for more. I told him, “If these large doses of narcotics are not working, giving you more of the same is not going to help you. We need to admit you to the hospital to get your pain under control and then send you home on adequate medicine.” He refused my offer. When I would not give him additional narcotics to take home with him, he walked out.
On the same day, a patient with a new diagnosis of acute leukemia needed urgent admission. I had been advising for one week that he do so. Today I spent another 30 minutes with him as he offered question after question that had no bearing on his illness. I told him, “You don’t need more information; you need to make a decision.”
He immediately stood up and began shouting, cursing, “Who do you think I am! Do you think I am a child? Do you think I am your slave?” It went downhill from that and he walked out.

There is a certain kind of pride that allows us to think we can make everyone happy. “I’m a doctor; that should be enough to please anyone.” I wish.
Unfortunately, I have come to realize that I am not that attractive all the time and some people just do not appreciate their encounters with me, even when I do things well.
So, what is my responsibility when patients get mad and it is not my fault?
  1. Review my behavior; it really may have been my fault. Did I make the right decision? Did I communicate it well? How was my attitude?
  2. Regardless of the cause of the dissension, try to direct the patient toward good care.
  3. Realize that my chief goal is not to make all people happy, but to seek good for all people.
  4. Strive for beneficence, non-malfeasance, justice and autonomy.
  5. Let the love of Christ shine through me, even when I am emotionally repelled by those who dislike me. As Oswald Chambers put it, “We must beware of letting natural affinities hinder our walking in love. One of the most cruel ways of killing love is by disdain built on natural affinities.”
Rarely do we live out the cross more faithfully than when we show great love to those who despise us unfairly.

Dear Father,
Help me to show your love consistently, whether or not that love is returned.

No comments:

Post a Comment